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Warren Commission Report: Page 445« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VIII - The Protection of the President)

intelligence operations. Examination of these procedures shows that in most respects they were well conceived and ably executed by the personnel of the Service. Against the background of the critical events of November 22, however, certain shortcomings and lapses from the high standards which the Commission believes should prevail in the field of Presidential protection are evident.

Advance preparations.--The advance preparations in Dallas by Agent Winston G. Lawson of the White House detail have been described' in chapter II. With the assistance of Agent in Charge Sorrels of the Dallas field office of the Secret Service, Lawson was responsible for working out a great many arrangements for the President's trip. The Service prefers to have two agents perform advance preparations. In the case of Dallas, because President Kennedy had scheduled visits to five Texas cities and had also scheduled visits to other parts of the country immediately before the Texas trip, there were not enough men available to permit two agents to be assigned to all the advance work. Consequently, Agent. Lawson did the advance work alone from November 13 to November 18, when he was joined by Agent David B. Grant, who had just. completed advance work on the President's trip to Tampa.

The Commission concludes that the most significant advance arrangements for the President's trip were soundly planned. In particular, the Commission believes that the motorcade route selected by Agent Lawson, upon the advice of Agent in Charge Sorrels and with the concurrence of the Dallas police, was entirely appropriate, in view of the known desires of the President. There were far safer routes via freeways directly to the Trade Mart, but these routes would not have been in accordance with the White House staff instructions given the Secret Service for a desirable motorcade route.154 Much of Lawson's time was taken with establishing adequate security over the motorcade route and at the two places where the President would stop, Love Field and the Trade Mart. The Commission concludes that the arrangements worked out at the Trade Mart by these Secret Service agents with the cooperation of the Dallas police and other local law enforcement agents, were carefully executed. Since the President was to be at the Trade Mart longer than at any other location in Dallas and in view of the security hazards presented by the building, the Secret Service correctly gave particular attention in the advance preparations to those arrangements. The Commission also regards the security arrangements worked out by Lawson and Sorrels at Love Field as entirely adequate.

The Commission believes, however, that the Secret Service has inadequately defined the responsibilities of its advance agents, who have been given broad discretion to determine what matters require attention in making advance preparations and to decide what action to take. Agent Lawson was not given written instructions concerning the Dallas trip or advice about any peculiar problems which it might involve; all instructions from higher authority were communicated to him orally. He did not have a checklist of the tasks he was expected to

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